Maintaining A Healthy Perspective With Contest Prep Plans

The following article is featured on as well:

Those of us who compete are well aware of the critical importance of following specific meal plans which are designed to optimize lean muscle mass and promote fat loss. However, these meal plans, especially during cutting phases, can be extremely restrictive. In our quest for attaining the ideal physique for whatever division we compete in, we may find ourselves in a spiral of obsessive nose-to-the-grindstone adherence to foods we may have grown to abhor, intertwined with strong temptation to deviate from the plan and indulge in forbidden foods, only to berate ourselves afterwards for doing so. After all, we are only human, and after weeks or months of eating clean, we may be so exasperated with daily servings of asparagus, tilapia, chicken breast, and sweet potatoes that our emotional food triggers may kick in and undermine our contest prep efforts.

With orthorexia, there is an unhealthy fixation on clean foods and one’s moods are dictated by how rigidly a clean diet is maintained. So how is this different from what competitors do in the weeks leading up to a competition? The mentally healthy approach is to regard food simply as fuel and to dismiss any emotional association with particular items. I have been witness to and a participant in the fantasizing of forbidden foods in a manner akin to lustful, sexual craving. I have heard competitors talk backstage at length about all the foods they were planning to indulge in immediately following their final visit onstage for the night.

What I find interesting about such food fixations is how they are distinguishable from anorexic behavior. When I was 19, I battled anorexia, dropping to 85 pounds on a 5’5’’ at my lightest. With anorexics, they have a clear and complete aversion to calorie-rich foods and have successfully turned off any interest or cravings for such items, whereas with bulimics, orthorexics and many healthy competitors in contest prep mode, coveting indulgent foods is rather commonplace. Among all these groups, there is a propensity for obsessive and compulsive behaviors. One may argue that such obsessions and compulsions are a vital component of contest prep and that without such tendencies a competitor will lack the focus necessary to succeed.

It seems apparent that competitors as a general rule, are dangerously close to that fine line which separates a healthy relationship with food from orthorexia. I remember quite well how rigid I was about the food I ate when I was anorexic and even kept a daily food journal in which I wrote down the calories and fat grams of every food substance ingested. I also recall how horrified and ashamed I was of myself when I would reluctantly consume a food I regarded as fattening.

Over 20 years later, I have a healthy relationship with food and for the most part regard it as fuel. Yet I am immersed in the world of contest prep and like many other competitors will balk and grumble about the clean foods I must eat. There are times when the mere thought of eating another spear of asparagus seems like the most disgusting activity in the world. On the rare occasion that I find myself in a restaurant, I find it an alien concept to peruse a menu and actually be able to order whatever I want from any part of the menu. There are also times during which my metabolism is in hyperdrive and I could eat almost nonstop for the duration of the day.

Here’s the thing: if I indulge in something that is not part of a contest prep meal plan, I don’t flog myself. Rather, I allow myself to enjoy the rare treat and move on. If you find yourself wallowing in extreme anxiety and prolonged guilt over ingesting a food item which is on the banned list, beware. This could signify the beginning of a food-related psychopathology.

The Ultimate Competition Packing List

Originally published on RxGirl on Sunday, 06 April 2014
I cannot tell you how many times I have been at a contest and have heard other competitors mention all the things they forgot to pack in their luggage. Such oversights can make an already stressful time almost intolerable, especially if the contest location is far from one’s home and unfamiliar. Over the years I compiled and updated a packing list which has served me very well and has relieved all the stress of remembering what to pack.

Every time I pack for a contest, I have copies of my packing lists and check off each item as it is packed. Instead of having one list, I have three: a main list, a food and supplement list, and a makeup list. I have even gone to the extent of specifying which items go in my checked bag or handbag and which items go into my carry-on bag. I am adamant about having my competition suits, clear heels, jewelry and all makeup items in my carry-on bag so that I don’t have to worry about being separated from those vital items.

Even if you are hiring someone to do hair and makeup, I still recommend packing all the makeup and hair items you would need if you had to do it yourself, because you never know what might happen. I have heard of competitors who got stuck without a makeup artist for one reason or another, then had to scramble to borrow makeup or quickly find a makeup artist to come to the rescue. It is NOT worth the stress to take that chance!
Here is a breakdown of the items I recommend packing for a contest:

Main List:

Checked Bag –
• Body lotion
• Sugar scrub (make sure container is leakproof!)
• Razor
• Regular toiletry stuff (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face moisturizer)
• Umbrella (I have caught myself in unexpected rainstorms, so this is a MUST)
• Loose pants (for post-tanning)
• Big button-down shirt (for post-tanning)
• Dark socks (take several pairs to avoid staining sheets and in case of wet weather)
• Dark hand towels (I usually pack two for showering purposes)
• Dark t-shirt (makes a great pillowcase after tanning)
• Gym apparel (make sure to count how many days you will work out, remember bras, shorts, socks and sneakers)
• Hair clips and ties
• Hairspray, hair wax, hair gel
• Shampoo and conditioner
• Hair styling tools such as hairdryer, flatiron, curling iron
• Comb, brush
• Flip flops (great in hot weather and post-tan)
• Business cards (VERY important for networking)
• Extra Ziploc bags
• Food storage containers
• Small sewing kit
• Safety pins
• Cotton swabs (handy for cleaning up makeup too)
• Makeup remover towelettes
• Outfit to sleep in
• Outfits for daytime (count how many days you will need clothes and pack accordingly)
• Underwear (dark colors recommended, plus pack extra pairs)
• Shoes for daytime
• Cute dress or two to go out in
• Nice heels to go out in
• Sweater or coat
• Bikini bite
• Touch-up tanning solution, gloves and tanning puff
• Glaze

Carry On Bag –
• Phone charger
• Jewelry for contest
• Clear heels
• At least two competition suits (ALWAYS bring a backup!)
• Makeup items from Makeup List
• Food from Food List

Food List:
• Supplements
• Diuretic
• Silverware
• Lidded beverage container
• Food from your plan

Makeup List:
• Primer (foundation and eyeshadow)
• Eye shadows
• Eyeliners
• False eyelashes
• Lash adhesive
• Small scissors
• Fine tip tweezers
• Small mirror (I recommend one about 4 inches in diameter which folds up)
• Mascara
• Foundation
• Translucent loose powder
• Blush
• Bronzer
• Highlighter
• Lip liner
• Lipstick
• Lipgloss
• Sponges
• Eyelash curler (if your lashes are straight, I would recommend this)
• Brushes
Competitor and luggage
Now that I have everything broken down in list form, let’s look at the best way to do all this packing. Generally, I like to pack my food a few days in advance since it is the most tedious portion of the packing experience. Each meal is placed in a sandwich sized bag with a day and meal number (eg: W 1), then that bag is placed into a gallon sized bag which is labeled for the day (eg: W). This way, I can grab one of the large bags and know that all my meals are in there. Wet ingredients or vegetables which tend to leak (asparagus is notorious for this) should be double-bagged. I refrigerate the day’s meals for the day that I will be traveling, while the meals for the other days go into the freezer. You can expect food packing to take at least a couple of hours, so make sure you have a decent pocket of time to do this.

One to two days before the contest, I pack my other items. Lotions, gels, and creams should be placed into a Ziploc bag in case they leak. Since tanning solution is especially prone to leakage, I will put masking tape over the seal before placing it in the bag, and will also place the bag into a rigid plastic container for more protection.

As long as you take a systematic approach and take your time with packing, as opposed to waiting until the last minute, you will be well prepared for your contest.

What To Bring To Your First National Show Besides Your Physique

Originally published on on Monday, 07 May 2012

So you competed in a national qualifier and got your qualification…fantastic! But now you may be wondering how to prepare for a national level show, what to pack, and generally what to expect at the national level. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen competitors who are newbies to the national circuit and have that deer in headlights look. They are completely stunned by the magnitude of a national show and intimidated by all the other nationally-qualified athletes who, for the most part, look amazing. Quite frequently these new competitors have no idea what to pack for a show outside of their local region and end up scurrying all over the place trying to procure the items they neglected to pack.

In light of this, here is a list of essential items to pack for a national level NPC/IFBB show, along with explanations. If you go to a national show fully prepared, you won’t have to deal with the stress of having forgotten something.

Board shorts (at LEAST two pairs, in case something happens to your main pair)
Dark towel (you don’t want to get tanning solution on the hotel towels because the hotel will charge you to replace them!)
Dark t-shirts (these make great pillowcases at the hotel)
Umbrella (you never know if it might rain)
Close-toed shoes
Driver’s license or other ID
Cash for incidentals, cab fare
Basic toiletry items (toothbrush and toothpaste, moisturizer, hair gel, deodorant, razor)
A good skin scrub – sugar scrubs are much gentler on the skin than salt scrubs. Make sure the container is leak-proof and place in a Ziploc bag for extra security. If this is being packed in a carry-on bag, make sure the container is 3 ounces or less.
Touch up foundation or bronzer for your face to match up with airbrush color on body
Baggy pants with NO elastic at waistband
Loose brushed cotton or flannel button-down long-sleeved shirt
Socks (your tanned feet will stain the sheets!)
Enough changes of casual clothes for the time that you will be at location
Nice outfit in case you feel inclined to go out to celebrate after finals
Diuretic (if your coach advises it)
Food – make sure to pack extra food. You can freeze your food then pop it in the microwave as you need it.
Safety pins
Moist wipes – travel pack size

If you map out your packing strategy you should be able to remember to pack all the essentials.

One Of My Client Transformations…Vegetarian Plan



This is what happens when you take someone who had great genetics but hasn’t pushed it to the next level, and kick it up many notches to get her stage ready! The pic on the left was from August of last year…my client prepped for a contest in early December, ut circumstances beyond her control prevented her from competing at that time. She regrouped, picked a contest in late May, and I designed a new 12 week prep program, this time incorporating a vegetarian plan.

If you have dietary restrictions, such as certain food allergies or a preference for vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, no fish, etc., I can accommodate you. My plans are always customized to fit your needs. Please go to to view packages and pricing.

Contest Friendly Bread?

Those of you who are well acquainted with contest prep are familiar with pulling down carbs and avoiding protein powder and artificial sweeteners during the week leading up to an event. For many of you, that week is characterized by Ziploc bags full of boiled chicken and asparagus. You may be having dreams about post-contest cheat meals and a big reunion with all the fun foods which were forbidden during your prep. But what about P28 Bread? Must you wait until after the contest to dive into a delicious P28 sandwich?
New P28 Bread label 2014
The general opinion is that wheat based carbohydrate sources and whey protein should be omitted from final week prep. However, I am not joking when I say that I ate a slice of P28 Bread every day during one final week prep, right up through the day I stepped onstage, and ended up taking a First Place national finish. As long as you do not experience belly bloat after eating P28 Bread, you should not have an issue with consuming it before hitting the stage. I will put out a disclaimer and say that you should check with your coach and follow whatever plan is in place, but if you are doing your own prep, you might want to consider incorporating P28 bread into that final week meal regimen.

To order these amazing products, go to